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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

300                   MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

und ^u losm? He means that he would not prune and shape his
matter to a logical cohesion, but light up the inextricable con-
fusion of human happenings by allusive symbol and give them the
significance of a myth. Dream and myth are poetry; the psycho-
logist's interpretation is a naturalistic negation of poetry; it is a
shameless exposure, not an imaged illumination. The psychologist
of present-day literature, Wassermann says in another treatise, Der
Uterat ah Psycholog (1910), is the very contrary of poet, he is 'der
Uterat\ 'der vow Mythos losgeloste Mensch, der auch von der Gesellschaft
losgeloste Mensch\ The technician, probably, is not tied to his tech-
nique, or falls below it; but there is considerable originality in his
method, though the influence of other writers is patent: e.g. of
E. T. A. Hoffmann and Jean Paul in certain of his Novellen (Der
nkgekusste Mund, 1903), of Balzac in his linking of novel to novel
by the migration of characters, and of Dostoieffsky in his exhaust-
ive illumination of the soul of outcasts.

Wassermann made his reputation with Die Juden von Zirndorf
(1897), in substance a withering exposure of Jew mentality. In the
prologue the Jews in Fiirth and Nuremberg, who live in a close
racial community, hear that at Smyrna a Messiah has arisen; and
they would go out to him with caravans, but news comes that he
has gone over to Islam. They found a village, Zionsdorf, which
the Christians corrupt to Zirndorf. There remains the problem
whether the Messiah was really a renegade and a cheat, or a typical
Jew who goes where profit is. In the second part a new Saviour
arises, Agathon Geyer, in Zirndorf itself; but he saves himself
only by overcoming the narrow spirit of the law. Die Geschichte
derjungen Senate Fuchs (1900) is built up on one of those typical
theses of Wassermann which to sober sense must seem absurd. In
this novel a character who is obviously a copy of Peter Altenberg
utters the portentous aphorism: there is an indestructible asbestos
soul, and every girl has it, even if she falls. Renate Fuchs is a
Munich lady engaged to a duke; she leaves him to run away with
a student. She wades through all the filth of the world - she falls
to a demonic creature who is recognized as a study of Wedekind -
before she is reborn as that which her name signifies, and as the
new woman who has a night of love with Agathon Geyer, the
Saviour of the previous novel, ere he dies, and she bears him the
first child of a new era: Beatus. In Der Moloch (1902) Wassermann
first handles the obsession which recurs in Der Fall Mauritius: